An increment every year, a promotion, a new role, a better job, or a more meaningful job; we’re always looking for something more in our careers. A career plateau is looked down upon, is not acceptable, and considered a regressive stage.
But is it so?
Research shows career plateaus are essential to learning and growth. Ever heard of the “s-curve”? In the mid-1990s, management thinker, Charles Handy, had first applied the concept, also known as the “sigmoid curve”, to organizational and individual development.
When career progress is mapped on a graph, it resembles a tilted S. Here’s what it means: a slow start, a faster middle, and level towards the end. In career progress, once an individual reaches the leveling or the plateau, a new S-curve begins. This period, experts say, is crucial and essential for learning and development.
Career strategist and former career development manager at Google, Jenny Blake says, “Career plateaus are a good thing. They signal a desire to make a greater impact.” So, how can you make the most of your career plateaus? Reskill and become relevant.
What does reskilling mean for professionals in the IT industry? A McKinsey study points to a fast-growing capabilities gap. The study says: 2020 will be the year of reskilling. The 4th Industrial Revolution will result in a widespread transformation of all currently established job roles and employees will have to update their skillset to adapt to the needs.
Experts cannot stress enough on the need for reskilling to become relevant in this age of rapid disruption in the job market due to technology. The World Economic Forum shares detailed tables that throw light on the skills needs of the IT industry.
Planned technology adoption in relation to job postings
Top emerging and declining jobs
Here are a few cues to tackle a career plateau by utilizing it to reskill:
Pick the positives
Assess what’s working for you from your current skills and job role and build on it. According to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, positive thinking provides an enhanced ability to build skills and develop new resources for use in later life. She calls it the “broaden and build” theory – positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life.
Do this: make a list of all the tasks and work that make you feel happy, satisfied, and enthusiastic. Now, think about how you can enhance or upgrade those skills. Are there any related skills that you could develop? Find courses and ways to reskill in those areas.
Visualize where you want to be
The first step to reaching success: know what’s your goal and where you want to be. Visualizing success is a technique often used by athletes. Scientific studies of the brain have revealed a strong connection between visualization and cognitive functions: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. Mental practice can boost motivation to learn, increase confidence, and prime your brain for success.
Do this: create a visual board of your career goals. Think about the skills you would require to achieve your goals.
Test the waters
Turn your vision into action. Try new things and know if the direction is right for you. The idea is to take mini-steps instead of jumping into something with a long-term plan. For example, join an online course related to your existing skill and know if you like it and whether it would benefit you. If you don’t find it exciting, try some other skill.
Do this: look for internships, find a mentor to guide you, speak to role models, and join courses to figure out if you enjoy something or not.
Keen to overcome your career plateau? Try reskilling by following these cues. Test it out for a few weeks or months and see how you can enhance your existing skills for a fresh start.
Related read: How to future proof yourself in the job market?